Trump names “net neutrality” foe Ajit Pai to lead the FCC

Daily News Article   —   Posted on January 25, 2017

(by Stephen Lawson, IDG News Service at PC World) – President Donald Trump has named Commissioner Ajit Pai, an outspoken opponent of the FCC’s net neutrality rules, as the next head of the agency.

The choice was widely expected after Trump’s election last November. Pai is the senior Republican on the [five member] commission, having served since 2012. He doesn’t need to be confirmed by the Senate because he is already on the Commission.

Pai [criticized] the reclassification of broadband as a utility in 2015, saying it would place excessive burdens on service providers, other internet players and consumers. The expansion of broadband service through a competitive marketplace has been one of Pai’s [focuses] as a commissioner.

“I look forward to working with the new Administration, my colleagues at the Commission, members of Congress, and the American public to bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans,” Pai said in a statement Monday.

Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed the net neutrality plan and former President Barack Obama strongly supported it. Trump and Republicans in Congress have criticized the rules and are expected to target them as part of an overall push for deregulation.

Although Pai can take over as chairman without a confirmation vote, he will need to be renominated and reconfirmed by the Senate at the end of this year when his current term on the Commission expires.

The FCC customarily includes three members from the president’s party and two from the opposition. If Trump follows suit, he will name one more Republican and one more Democrat. In addition to Pai, Democrat Mignon Clyburn and Republican Michael O’Rielly are on the Commission now.

Pai grew up in Parsons, Kansas, the son of immigrants from India, according to his biography on the FCC’s site. In addition to several positions as an attorney in the federal government, he was an associate general counsel at Verizon from 2001 to 2003.

Stephen Lawson is a senior U.S. correspondent for the IDG News Service based in San Francisco.

Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from PC World. For the original article, visit PCWorld .com.


Read Ajit Pai's bio at

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent agency of the U.S. government,  overseen by Congress to regulate interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable in all 50 states, D.C. and U.S. territories. It does the following:

  • Promotes competition, innovation and investment in broadband services and facilities.
  • Supports the nation’s economy by ensuring an appropriate competitive framework for the unfolding of the communications revolution.
  • Encourages the highest and best use of spectrum domestically and internationally.
  • Revises media regulations so that new technologies flourish alongside diversity and localism.
  • Provides leadership in strengthening the defense of the nation’s communications infrastructure.

The agency is directed by five commissioners who are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

The president also selects one of the commissioners to serve as chairman.

Only three commissioners can be of the same political party at any given time and none can have a financial interest in any commission-related business.

All commissioners, including the chairman, have five-year terms, except when filling an unexpired term.

The FCC is funded entirely by regulatory fees. It had a proposed fiscal-2012 budget of $354.2 million. It requested $388 million for 2016.

The FCC has 1,720 federal employees. (from the FCC website and wikipedia)